Pennsylvania readers may be surprised to learn that work-related illnesses kill more Americans than guns do each year. The government estimates that approximately 50,000 workers succumb to sicknesses caused by exposure to workplace toxins each year, compared to the 30,000 people who lose their lives to gun violence and accidents annually. Because the casualties of occupational disease die slowly and less dramatically than victims of gun violence, the media ignores their suffering. Worse, the U.S. government has a history of ignoring their suffering as well.
A new report by the National Safety Council concludes that some prescription drug overdoses suffered by employees may be compensable under workers' compensation insurance policies in Pennsylvania and nationwide. The report focused on opioid drugs, commonly called painkillers, which account for more than 25 percent of workers' compensation drug costs, according to recent statistics.
In our last post, we pointed out that there are limitations on when compensation is available to an injured worker outside the workers’ compensation system. That is the case in every state, including Pennsylvania. This is why workers’ compensation is sometimes called the “exclusive remedy” for workplace injuries.
Discrimination and retaliation are important issues in the field of employment law. Workers who are subjected to adverse treatment on an illegal basis or for exercising their rights under the law do not have to sit back and take it when an employer engages in such behavior. Taking legal action allow one to have one’s rights protected and to receive appropriate compensation.
When a worker is injured on the job here in Pennsylvania, there are several types of benefits available through the workers’ compensation system. These benefits include not only payments for lost wages and medical care, but also benefits for specific losses as well as death benefits. The latter are, of course, particularly important for those who’ve had a loved one as a result of a workplace injury.
In our previous post, we spoke a bit about partial and total disability benefits available through the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system. These benefits are, of course, critical for workers who have been injured on the job seriously enough that they are unable to work for a period of time or, in some cases, indefinitely.
In our last post, we spoke a recent workers' compensation award for a nurse who was forced to leave her job because of an allergic reaction to a chemical used in the floor wax used by her employer. The issue in that case was the extent to which the employer was responsible for providing total and disability coverage for the time she missed work.
When a worker is exposed to a workplace condition that is damaging to his or her health, the result is often that he or she is unable to continue in the position. Highly individualized reactions to working conditions such as allergic reactions can be tricky to deal with since employers and insurance providers are going to be keen to limit their liability for workers’ compensation benefits if they cannot eliminate the cause of the reaction or if the worker leaves the company because of an inability to tolerate the work environment. In these cases, it is sometimes necessary for a worker to put up a fight to ensure they receive the full benefits due to them.
In our previous post, we began looking at how workers' compensation law addresses the issue of choice of provider. As we noted, employers in Pennsylvania are able to limit their workers' choice of provider, but only if they provide a proper listing of providers.
Following a workplace injury, receiving prompt medical treatment from a competent physician is critical in ensuring that a worker doesn't end up with a medical condition that is worse than it has to be. One of the immediate questions for an injured worker, therefore, is: where can I go for medical care? Is an injured worker allowed to see his or her ordinary physician?